MANILA — Electoral violence erupted in the Philippines over the weekend and Monday after a shootout between two groups linked to rivals for mayor, killing four and wounding nine others in a grenade attack.
The shooting happened in the northern province of Ilocos Sur on Sunday. Separately, local police in the southern city of Maguindanao said five grenades were fired at a town hall, prompting a shootout with police. In Lanao del Sur, videos posted on social media showed people storming a voting center to destroy ballots and machines. An election official said the government is investigating the incident.
Violence is the order of the day in elections in the Philippines, where the government on Monday deployed 270,000 police and military to thwart such attacks.
Security was tight at elementary schools that were converted into polling stations, and there were reports of broken voting machines and some voters having trouble finding their names on the electoral rolls. At a news conference, Marlon Casquejo, an elections official, said the government had counted 143 defective machines nationwide. He said these were mostly “single incidents” and blamed old equipment for the problem.
Later in the day, George Garcia, the polls commissioner, said more than 1,800 voting machines were out and that there were 1,100 spare machines nationwide.
Analysts and election observers have described the race between Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Vice President Leni Robredo as an existential struggle for the soul of the country with consequences that cannot be overestimated.
Chester Cabalza, founder of the Manila-based research institute International Development and Security Cooperation, said the vote is not just about the next president, but “a choice between good governance in a transparent government or a leadership tainted with lies and overworked.” Story.”
Carl Merencillo, a Manila voter who works at a construction company, brought his wife and two young daughters to Ms. Robredo’s final campaign rally in Manila’s financial district on Saturday. He cast his vote for “Hope” on Monday morning, he said.
“It was definitely for the kids. This has really been a way for me to ensure that the future is brighter for the children and their generation,” said Mr. Merencillo.
It took voters in a district outside Manila between 45 minutes and an hour to cast their votes as the line meandered about a mile under the scorching tropical sun. Officials tried to enforce social distancing rules to prevent the spread of Covid-19, but voters were packed tight at many polling stations.
In addition to the top post, there are also thousands of local officials, mayors and senators up for election in the Philippines. There are more than 65 million registered voters in the country – a record – and polling officials said polling stations would be open until 7pm